branding editorials

Building A Brand When Starting With Zero Authority

by Jamal on March 28, 2017

Starting a new brand is always fun and exciting. You spend time coming up with fresh ideas, honing your aesthetic appeal and message to hopefully set you apart. When you have zero authority, however, nobody cares about your brand being just different. And trust me, it’s a long and hard process to go from 0 to 10 in this situation. And if you’re thinking going from 0 straight to 100 is possible, your dreams are what make the best movies.

Despite how hard this process is, it is possible to get there gradually. Through my experiences with FAI, and from what others have told me about their experiences, there is no such thing as an easy route for this. That’s why I’m taking the time now to give you tips and insight into building a brand when starting with absolute zero.

 

Starting With A Unique Selling Point

Before taking the time to come up with all the things that come with a brand, there’s one thing everyone must do. Figure out what you’re going to be doing. I know this seems very fool proof, but give it some actually thought. What makes you different?

Starting with zero authority, it can’t be anything cliché like experience or proven skill. Of course having a niche skill set is always great to start, but that leaves you very vulnerable to the market. I’ve been there and done that, and it didn’t end well! So what can you do? For me, it was finding a unique selling point.

In all honesty, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve laughed with interviewers or potential clients about my beginnings as a MySapce layout designer. I grew to love it because I eventually understood it was a great seed planter. The seed could be anything from amazement in my career in skills growth or just a good laugh with some people. It became my most astonishing selling point, besides my age of course, and defiantly the most memorable to this day.

Understanding how important having this is key for anyone with zero authority. It instantly gives something memorable to your brand. It can be anything about your past, or current situation, that people can relate and be attracted to you. And never forget, the beginning of finding clients or consumers is being remembered.

 

Creating Your Own Circle

Now, when I say community I’m not talking about client relationships or lead generations. That comes later. What I’m talking about is a community of your peers. In anything you do, engaging with a circle of people with a similar interest is always a great way to grow and improve at a much faster rate. It’s also a great way to become a part of and cope with your chosen industry.

If it makes it easier think of this concept in terms of music. For any artist, the fastest way to gain attention and build a reputation is to be in close proximity to another artist. Well known or not, being a known associate allows you both to build yourselves off of each other. So for someone starting with zero authority, having a circle is a simple way to grow your name. After that slowly comes the things every good brand/company needs: leads, client relationships, improved consumer numbers, etc.

 

Do Something Worth Showing

So many people jump the gun and go straight to promotion mode without anything worth looking at. Whatever industry you’re in, you’ll never be able to maintain clients or keep consumers that way.

Now for the most part, after reading something like that people only think of 1 out of 2 things. Starting with small, low-budget or pro bono, projects to gain references or build something for free that’s badass. I’ve personally done both, and I can honestly tell you in the long run building something badass will get much farther. Definitely not with immediate gains, but in the long run, you’ll benefit much more.

As a personal example of mine, you can take a look at my newest app LastCheck. It’s a project I really believe in, think has a promising future, and can become a part of my targeted consumer’s everyday life. Now that’s badass!

 

Learn To Spin

Here are a few phrases you can expect to hear something similar to”We like you, but we’d rather have someone with more experience.” Of course the first few times of hearing that is going to hurt, and probably make you wonder what you could’ve done differently. Honestly, there probably isn’t anything you could’ve done. It doesn’t matter you’re trying to win over new consumers or new clients, people will always prefer to go with something more established over you. So what can you do? Turn that insecurity against them!

The best way to spin that into a positive is to use that to highlight the positive sides you being fresh to your industry. For example, when someone says the aforementioned quote in the previous paragraph say, “Well, being fresher to the industry in comparison to your other options gives me more of a unique perspective which is more aligned with more modern and innovative standards.” The key points you need to remember spinning a client rejection are to highlight your strengths, turn their perceived negatives into positives, and make yourself seem better than your competition.

For me, my biggest negative was always my age. It always came up, and especially on the bigger projects I wanted it would be the main issue. It took me years, and a conversation with a colleague of mine, to come up with the perfect response. Which for me was, if my age is the only reason you’d rather be working with someone else than you’re just doing a

Which for me was, if my age is the only reason you’d rather be working with someone else than you’re just doing a disservice to yourself and project. It’s simple, straight to the point, and plants a seed of doubt automatically with whoever they were thinking would be better than me. And that’s all it takes 🙂

 

What To Take Away

Starting anything with zero authority in the field you selected is hard. It’s a long and rough road ahead of you if this is what you want, and if you can’t handle it I’d advise you to find something else. However, if you are firm in your decision to go this route, then if you make it to the other side of the tunnel it’ll be worth all pain getting there.

As my way to offer help with this journey, I’m going to be writing more about this topic. I’ll be giving you more insight into my personal experiences, highlighting more of the principles I mentioned here, and of course giving you more key points to help push you along the way.